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FEBS Lett. 2001 Feb 2;489(2-3):149-53.

The AMP-activated protein kinase prevents ceramide synthesis de novo and apoptosis in astrocytes.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology I, School of Biology, Complutense University, Madrid, Spain.


Fatty acids induce apoptosis in primary astrocytes by enhancing ceramide synthesis de novo. The possible role of the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) in the control of apoptosis was studied in this model. Long-term stimulation of AMPK with 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide ribonucleoside (AICAR) prevented apoptosis. AICAR blunted fatty acid-mediated induction of serine palmitoyltransferase and ceramide synthesis de novo, without affecting fatty acid synthesis and oxidation. Prevention of ceramide accumulation by AICAR led to a concomitant blockade of the Raf-1/extracellular signal-regulated kinase cascade, which selectively mediates fatty acid-induced apoptosis. Data indicate that AMPK may protect cells from apoptosis induced by stress stimuli.

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